Warning: Not really about videogames at all, not specifically anyway*
Putting aside all discussion of Japan as a Colonial entity, with thanks to those who have contributed to that:
My essential contention is not that the Sengoku era is uniquely, self-evidently fascinating per se. But the paucity of English language study on the subject is simply an obvious example of British Academia to still reject anything which does not propagate existing, reassuring narratives. If something happened outside of the sphere of the Empire, it’s basically irrelevant.
Likewise views which are taken outside of the intellectual status qou even within those fields of study are taboo. Good luck finding an English history of Imperial rule written by someone of native descent from said place . You’ll find them, a few of them; but they’re filed as racial or gender polemics, or cultural studies, or anthropology. Whereas if White Dudes write about the exact same? Oh, that’s History dear boy.
You’re right in the sense that the shelves are populated by Nazi shit basically because people are fascinated by Nazis, but that’s nonetheless a demand which rewards its academic supply. There is no attempt to question whether that supply, already fucking bounteous, should be maintained.Whether someone with a first class degree looking to study yes, More Hitler, should be funded for that. No question about where it leads. Give the people what they want! Give them the same story they love, again and again and again, to the point where reality is seen as a troubling false obstacle to the reassurances of a better more relatable and self affirming “reality” .
Of all the people who should be aiming higher, who should be speaking truth to power, who should be challenging the demand for easy and non-critical readings of society and making the case for the diversity and complexity of the human race and the utter fallacy of basic, repetitive social truisms which could well be fatal to democracy (again). You would think that Academic Institutions would be at the vanguard against the forces “Tired of Experts” but instead they provide them with the intellectual populist ammunition to believe that their myths are grounded in reality. Not by producing accounts which are mythical per se, but by affirming a wider meta narative of constant progress and civilization in which Britain has always been at the centre, secure of it’s place, implacable against bullies, moral even in it’s immorality. Places like Japan don’t even exist unless they serve as an example of the other countries that get popularized: the Bad Ones. Nazi Germany, Japan, Catholic Spain. These Bad Countries serve as an excellent comparison because they demonstrate just how wonderfully circumspect Britain was in it’s global reign, because with all that power it was never as corrupt as any of those. The net result is that the overwhelming majority of British Historians still write about the same topics as their ancestors did 150 years ago, just also with Nazis.
I saw it coming though when I finished my degree. I was offered funding for a PHD etc but it felt incredibly self indulgent to me to be frank and I did something else. It was the same time as Fukuyama’s “End of History” was being bought into and celebrated. The idea that basically, as human beings, we had made it, and things were basically only going to improve for humanity. To suggest otherwise, or even just to say actually maybe we don’t know? That was to be seen as a cynic or some haggard monkish prophet. Even then it was very obvious that Historians were abandoning the social democratic idea of being social Night Watchmen in favour of pursuing it as an eccentric middle class interest like Fly Fishing or Model Train collecting, the whole “oooh isn’t it fascinating” of it all. One of the best parts of this was that basically it did away with a lot of awkward questions regarding white guilt. Because sure, some bad shit went down for a few centuries, but hey, chart the graph of “progress” that was no reaching its eternal apex and it begins at roughly the same point. Ends kind of justified the means.
A month later and the Financial Collapse happened and that entire paradigm went to shit to anyone with any critical integrity. The fact that what people thought was happening was entirely divorced from the reality that suddenly smacked the most powerful and economically and technologically advanced parts of the planet in the face, that hardly anyone knew it was going on, because intellectuals who were paid to study patterns of human behaviour asserted that something like this basically couldn’t happen anymore.
I remember being relieved in a weird sort of way. That maybe this historical, epochal level of shit happening would at least put all the self indulgence back in the box and people would get on with the business of critical introspection. Nah. There was just a doubling down of reasons why that was the blip and everything was fine. Is fine. Everything is fine. I know people who Still maintain that. Who are so in love academically with the concept of how far we’ve progressed that they can’t see, despite all their actual literal fucking training in it, how Western Civilization has become imperilled to a point not seen since WW2 within less than a decade.
Note, I’m not saying this is some sort of grand conspiracy or centrally orchestrated plan. It’s just privilege and self-interest working itself out the way it usually does-by not considering wider implications. Unfortunately we are living in an era where supposedly benign individualism is destroying the fabric of society by being it’s literal antithesis. This is just another example of how it manifests itself, when people essentially are more interested in their career than considering the moral imperatives of a situation of influence, on a scale of thousands, it fucks shit up.